Iconic Men's Shoes11/7/2016
Eight Iconic Men's Shoes, and How They Came to Be
It's not something we often think about as we head out the door and onto the street, but our favorite footwear often has a story to tell. The histories of these eight shoes and boots make them icons.
On a frigid day in Connecticut, in 1935, Paul Sperry was shaken after a near-fatal slip off the deck of a boat. When he noticed that his dog was having no trouble navigating some ice, Sperry was inspired; he carved grooves in gum rubber, to mimic his dog's paws, and the original boat shoe was born. Eventually the Sperry Top-Sider became the cornerstone of the Preppy look.
Hobart, Tasmania is the home of Australian boot manufacture Blundstone. The Blundstone family launched the company in 1892, although a series of financial problems, and the great depression, resulted in the company changing hands many times. Blunnies are known for their ruggedness, their longevity, and distinctive pulls at the front and back of the boot's openings.
Chuck Taylor All Stars
The Converse Rubber Shoe Company was formed in 1908, but its signature product wasn't introduced until 1923, when basketball player Chuck Taylor helped redesign the athletic shoe. Since then, more than 800 Million pairs have been sold around the world. 800 Million! While they haven't graced the NBA court since 1979, Chucks can be found just about everywhere else. In 2003, Nike purchased Converse for $309 Million.
The Desert Boot has been a men's wardrobe staple since its introduction in 1950, and as the name suggests, its origins are in the desert - specifically the Sahara. Nathan Clark, of the famous British shoe maker Clark's, first noticed the short boot in 1941, while stationed with the military in Burma. When he learned that his fellow soldiers had commissioned the footwear from a bazaar in Cairo, Egypt, he knew he had to take it to the masses. The desert boot has a crepe rubber sole, topped by rough suede.
Charlie Wohlford was so good at repairing damaged logging boots, his Vancouver B.C. customers raved they were returned in much better condition than when they were brand new. So, Wohlford decided it was time to create his own footwear. Dayton's Boots opened in 1946, and became known as the source for the best made logging boots in the world. Dayton's has since moved beyond logging, and among its products today is a line of biker boots that motorcyclists swear by.
The Penny Loafer has an unexpected back story: 19th century English sportsmen first wore them while salmon fishing in Scandinavia. When the shoes were introduced to the American market in 1936 by G. H. Bass and Co., they were marketed as Weejuns - a nod to their Norwegian parentage. Ivy league students took to decorating the front flaps of the shoes with pennies, leading to the more well-known name of the famous footwear. Want your own?
In 1973, Sidney Swartz introduced a yellow waterproof lace-up leather boot to the Abington Shoe Company, which his father had opened 19 years earlier in South Boston. When the Timberland began selling in high-end department stores, such as Bloomingdales, and Saks Fifth Avenue, the Swartz family knew they had a hit. The company has since moved to Newmarket New Hampshire, and goes by the name of its most popular product.
The Van Doren Rubber Company opened March 16th 1966 in Anaheim California, and grew to become the favorite footwear provider to the skateboarding crowd. Vans got its name from two of the company's founders, brothers Paul and James Van Doren. While ownership has changed numerous times, Vans is determined to remain relevant. Over the years Vans has establishing design partnerships with the Beatles, Metallica, and Toy Story creator Pixar.
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